I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.
I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.
We have a credit card, and the bank charges an annual fee on the 1st July each year. Each year, I ring the bank and exchange some 'reward points' in return for having the fee reversed. Everyone is happy.
Today I called the bank to have the fee refunded, and met with what must be one of the most ridiculous constraints I have ever encountered. The conversation went something like this (the date is fictious for privacy reasons):
Me: Hi, I've been charged an annual fee on my credit card. I'd like to use some reward points to have it reversed.
Operator: I'm sorry sir, I can't do that. You'll have to wait until the 20th of August, as it's an annual fee.
Me: I think I may have been unclear. The annual fee I was charged was on the first of July.
Operator: Yes sir, I can see that on my display. However you reversed the fee on the 20th of August last year, and you can only reverse one annual fee per year.
Me: Isn't that what I'm asking? I had last year's fee reversed, now I want this year's fee reversed.
Operator: I understand what you're asking, sir, but you can only reverse the fee once every twelve months. The last time you reversed the fee was in August.
Me: But it's an annual fee! Just because I was late to reversing it last financial year doesn't mean that I have to be late this financial year, does it?
Operator: I'm afraid it does, sir. You'll have to call back in August.
After many words on how ludicrous the condition was, escalation to a supervisor, and complaint, the bank agreed to reverse the fee, but only on the 20th of August, as that was when I reversed the fee last year. Incredible! Not really the resolution I wanted, but certainly better than having to call back next month.
After the resolution, I asked if I could speak to someone responsible for administering and supervising these conditions, and was presented with the number for the Customer Relations Department. That sure sounds like a bit-bucket, but I took down the number anyway. I was also asked if I wanted their postal address, and I refused, claiming that I was sure I could ask them over the phone. I was wrong.
Upon calling the Customer Relations Department I was met with the most incredible message I have ever encountered.
Hi! You've called the Customer Relations Department. We're encountering a very high level of calls right now, and would appreciate it if you could call back later. Good-bye! *CLICK*
I thought that perhaps this was some kind of joke, so I called back, same thing. Checked the number in the phone-book, it was the same. This is certainly not the way in which I expect a customer relations department to be run.
Bouncing on the 'redial' key a few times finally got me past the 'call back later' message, followed by disclaimers, followed by being on hold for five minutes, followed by... you guessed it, *CLICK*.... Beep.... Beep... Beep...
Well, after being presented with ridiculous conditions, a complaints line that doesn't answer, and having had earlier in the day deal with the bank's website, many parts of which are broken or crippled in anything but MSIE, I did the only thing that could be considered sensible.
I applied for credit at another bank.